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Middle East and North Africa

One more promise kept: the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

Fionna Douglas's picture

Launch of Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

A remarkable thing happened at the US Treasury in DC today; the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to pool resources, and as Bill Gates described it, “put small holder farmers, especially women, front and center” of a new multilateral agriculture and food security program. The Gates Foundation will contribute $30 million.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) will focus on increasing agricultural productivity and linking farmers to markets. A special feature of the program is the focus on country ownership that puts countries in the driver’s seat.

The GAFSP was created in response to a call from G20 leaders last year for the World Bank to work with interested donor to set up a multi-donor trust fund to implement some of the $22 billion in pledges made by the G8 leaders at L’Aquila, Italy.

Zoellick: ‘Spring Meetings a turning point for World Bank’

Angie Gentile's picture

April 22, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/ IMF Spring Meetings. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, opening press conference. Photo: Simone McCourtie/World Bank.Bank President Robert Zoellick just gave his traditional pre-Spring Meetings briefing to the press, where he talked about a multipolar world economy and how the World Bank is changing to meet the needs of a new reality.

“Economic and political tectonic plates are shifting,” he said. Developing countries are key sources of demand for recovery from the crisis, and “over time, they can become multiple poles of growth.”


 

Zoellick said the Spring Meetings represent a turning point for the World Bank. Over the weekend, the institution’s 186 shareholders will be considering four issues:

  • the first capital increase in more than 20 years
  • whether to give developing countries a bigger say in the running the institution
  • the Bank’s post-crisis strategy, and
  • the most comprehensive reform program in the Bank’s history.

"Agreement on this package of measures, if successful, would represent a multilateral success story,” he said.

 
For more information:

 

World Development Indicators 2010 launched on data.worldbank.org

Richard Fix's picture

World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings2010 - World Development Indicators 2010 Launch and Open Data Initiative announced. Justin Lin, World Bank Chief Economist talks about free data.

We launched the 2010 World Development Indicators today, except this year we launched it on data.worldbank.orgthe Bank’s new open data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators previously available only to paying subscribers. We’re pushing to share our data with the world, and the WDI is a wonderful platform for this. Year after year, we pull together data from many places—across international agencies and countries-- in one place to draw a statistical image of the world. This year, whole new audiences will be able to access our work.

Since I joined the Bank, I have worked with a team of economists, statisticians, and others to produce a new WDI each year. Every April, we unveiled a new edition that revealed new facts about development. It was our chance to describe development by the numbers. But the numbers were not enough. We needed to explain the numbers, make it easier for others to pull knowledge from all these facts. The essays, the detailed descriptions and definitions of the data were a step in the right direction, but we needed to do more.

Spring Meetings 'Can Represent a Landmark in Bank's History'

Angie Gentile's picture

Delegates, civil society members and press from around the world are set to converge in Washington for  the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. (See the schedule of events.) The week is packed with meetings, briefings and lectures covering topics ranging from strategies for post-economic crisis recovery to the first effort in 20 years to raise capital for the World Bank.

But many continue to wonder what the fallout will be of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland last week--from the effects on countries to disruptions in international air travel.

Zoellick: End of the Third World?

Julia Ross's picture

April 14, 2010 - Washington DC - World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick speaks at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC

Setting the scene for next week’s Spring Meetings, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said today the world has changed since the financial crisis, the third world is gone and we now live in a multipolar economy.

At Washington, D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Zoellick told an audience of diplomats, economists and international development specialists, “We are now in a new, fast-evolving, multipolar world economy, in which some developing countries are emerging as economic powers; others are moving towards becoming additional poles of growth, and some are struggling to attain their potential within this new system.”

“It is time we put old concepts of First and Third Worlds, leader and led, donor and supplicant behind us,” he said.

The speech drew several questions on the Bank’s response to the financial crisis and how it is helping developing countries adapt to the new global economy Zoellick described.

MENA: Economists finding some good news

Alison Schafer's picture

In Istanbul, World Bank economists taking a hard look at how the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are weathering the financial crisis are finding some good news. The World Bank and the IMF are holding their annual meetings in Turkey, and a status update on the MENA region shows some resilience.

Shamshad Akhtar, the World Bank’s new vice president for the region, said at a press conference today that MENA’s economy grew by almost 6.2 percent in 2008. But Akhtar says the region has been shaken by what she calls the “Triple-F phenomena”—food, fuel and the financial crisis. She says the food crisis has hit the region hardest, in part because of a growing population and a heavy dependence on imported food. But, she says, despite slowing growth, down to 2.2 percent, the region is faring better than many others.

 

 

Akhtar told reporters: “The key message we retain from all this is: the MENA region has weathered the triple crisis well so far.” But there is an “immediate danger of rising unemployment and resurgence of poverty.”

Annual Meetings get underway

Angie Gentile's picture

Istanbul Congress Center. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe buzz is building in Istanbul, our beautiful host city, as delegates, press and CSOs from around the world begin pouring in for the 2009 joint Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

The press room opened Monday, providing temporary work quarters for the more than 1,200 registered media who are covering the events over the next week for news outlets large and small.

They are joined by representatives from civil society organizations here to take part in a Civil Society Policy Forum being held from October 2-7. The event is jointly organized by the World Bank Group and IMF civil society teams. The forum will bring together Bank and Fund staff, CSO representatives, including from Oxfam, Civicus and Africa Monitor, to name a few, along with government officials, academics, and others to exchange views on a variety of topics ranging from the global economic crisis and climate change, to governance reform. Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will co-host a CSO townhall meeting Friday afternoon.

Meetings home in on regional impact and solutions to crisis

Nina Vucenik's picture

Regional finance ministers and development practitioners teamed up today to brainstorm solutions to the troubling economic crisis.

Young money changer on bank of Senegal River, the border between Senegal and Mauritania. Photo: Scott Wallace / World Bank Amid World Bank warnings that Africa is likely to be the worst-hit region by the global financial crisis, African finance ministers and Bank staff met today to determine the way forward in dealing with the impact of the global financial crisis on African countries.

Hosted by the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, Shanta Devarajan, and chaired by vice president for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, the meeting challenged participants to “think outside the box” in determining solutions to the negative economic, humanitarian and political effects the crisis already is having on the continent.

“The major challenge facing African countries and their development partners is how to design appropriate policies that would respond to this crisis,” Ezekwesili said.

She said sound macro-economic policies put forward by Africans over the last decade, which have, in part, led to significant growth rates, are now being questioned.

Flexibility, diversification, and regional solutions are key to combating the crisis, meeting participants agreed. Uganda Central Bank Governor Emmanuel Tumasiime-Mutabile advised flexibility of markets, of regimes, and of policies in order to stem the force of the crisis.

Critical investments in safety nets to rise

Sameer Vasta's picture

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Group Managing DirectorIn light of the global economic crisis, the World Bank announced today that its investments in safety nets and other social protection programs in health and education are projected to triple to $12 billion over the next two years.

Additionally, the Bank also increased its fast track facility for the food price crisis to US$2 billion from US$1.2 billion. As World Bank Group Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explains:

"The continuing risky economic environment, combined with continuing volatility for food prices, means for poor people the food crisis is far from over. Many poor countries have not benefitted from some moderation of food price spikes in global markets. The decision to expand the facility will help ensure fast track measures are in place for continued rapid response to help countries."

More information about today's announcements:

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